Expert: Immunotherapies, Targeted Therapies Show Promise in Melanoma

Source: Pharmacy Times, June 2023

In an interview with Pharmacy Times at the Oncology Pharmacists Connect conference in Austin, Texas, Heidi Finnes, PharmD, BCOP, FHOPA, director of clinical ambulatory pharmacy practice at Mayo Clinic, discussed updates in melanoma and the use of immunotherapies and targeted therapies. With a growing armamentarium of options for these patients, Finnes also discussed sequencing and optimal combination therapies for different patients.

Heidi Finnes, PharmD, BCOP, FHOPA: Sure. So, melanoma is a disease of the skin most often. Patients who have blond hair, blue eyes, you know, light skin tones, who sunburn easily can be at higher risk. But melanoma can also not be related to the sun whatsoever. Sometimes you can get it between the webs of your toes, underneath your nails, things like that as well. It’s a disease that’s treated primarily now by immunotherapy, so it doesn’t respond well to traditional chemotherapy-type agents that we think of when people say that they have cancer. About 50% of people can have a mutation called BRAF, and having that mutation makes you eligible for certain types of targeted therapies. So again, with melanoma, you can have melanoma, and actually no one might know it because you don’t lose your hair or have the side effects that you think of because you don’t give traditional treatments like chemotherapy.

Q: Which patients are most likely to see success with immunotherapy?